State of Branding: Newcastle (From The Newcastle Logo, To Newcastle Bridges)


Angel of the north


18 min read

This week we are taking a short break from our US journey, and visiting our hometown of none other than Newcastle Upon Tyne!

The city has so much to offer whether you are into historical landmarks, cultural attractions, or just fancy a beer and some proper good grub.

We will be diving straight into everything from logo design and brand identities, to advertisements and architectural importance.

Basically, any branding in the toon, we’ve got it covered!

We will be discussing branding in Newcastle City centre, alongside other popular areas from Jesmond, to the Quayside.

There is a strong theme in this North-Eastern city, of businesses supporting small and local businesses, so we can see off the bat why Newcastle has been voted the friendliest city in the UK in past years.

So, with that, what better place to start than diving into the branding of the city itself…

Newcastle Branding

Population: 818,000 (ish)
TimeZone: British Summer Time (BST)
Abbreviation: NCL

This state of branding post is slightly different to the others as we are really getting down to the nitty gritty of one city, but to avoid confusion we will try to keep the format the same.

We will of course start with the Newcastle Flag and crest, before moving onto key areas, and key facts, so even if you’re a Geordie born and bred, we hope you learn something new regardless!

newcastle flag
Credit to Adobe Stock

Newcastle Flag: The One and Only

For this post we only have one flag so it’s time to get into some detail.

The base of the Newcastle Upon Tyne Flag is more or less the flag of England, with a solid white base, and a red cross right through the centre.

In the centre of the flag is the Newcastle crest that is dated back to the 14th century, and since the 80’s has been the focal point of the football team’s logo (but more on that later).

The centre of the crest is a red shield containing 3 castles, supported by two seahorses who quite literally have half the body of a horse, and half the body of a fish, which are unlike any seahorses we’ve seen before.

Above the shield and its supporters, is a knight’s helmet with yet another castle on top, holding a golden lion, and the flag of England.

So all in all, this crest has quite a few elements to symbolise the history of the city.

The castles represent the original “new-castle” built by the eldest son of William the Conqueror, and the mythical seahorses serve as a reminder that the city was, and still is an important seaport.

Finally, the motto along the base of the crest “Fortiter Defendit Triumphans”, meaning Triumphing by Brave Defence, takes us back to the civil war where the city used a stubborn defence against the scots.

Key Areas in Newcastle

Now, we will be the first to tell you that Newcastle is full of suburbs and districts that are there waiting to be explored, however, we would need more than just one post to discuss them all.

So instead for this post we have narrowed it down to 3 key areas where the branding was just too good to miss out on, which are as follows:

  • Quayside
  • Jesmond
  • City Centre

Alongside being some of the best places to live, these areas of the city hold some of the best attractions, restaurants, landmarks, and most of all branding.

Whether that’s a tourist attraction that catches our attention, or a local brand that goes above and beyond, we have collected a selection of unique, northern brand identities.

Now unlike previous US posts, we will not be going into each of these areas individually, but instead exploring various attractions, brands, and companies that lie within them.

Central station
Credit to RibaJ

Key Facts About Newcastle

But before we get down to it, we thought we would provide some key facts about the toon, to get you in the Geordie spirit:

  1. Newcastle Central Station was the first covered train station in the world
  2. The Geordie accent was voted the most friendly accent in Britain
  3. Parts of the 73-mile-long Hadrian’s Wall are dotted around the city
  4. Newcastle ranks as the 15th most visited city in the UK by visitors from overseas
  5. Newcastle is known for its student nightlife
  6. Rowan Atkinson (A.K.A Mr Bean) is from Newcastle
  7. The Newcastle Town Moor is 929 acres, making it larger than some parks in London
  8. The Millennium bridge is nicknamed ‘The blinking eye’
  9. Newcastle Brown Ale is America’s most imported British ale
  10. The first ever Greggs bakery opened in 1951
  11. The High Level bridge was the first in the world to combine road and rail on the same structure
  12. In 1879 Mosley Street became the first in the world to be lit by electric lights
  13. In 1835 Grainger market was opened, becoming Newcastle’s first indoor market
  14. Newcastle University is a founding member of the Russell Group, pioneering in research and innovation

Did You Know That The Newcastle Brown Ale Star Has a Hidden meaning?

Whether you are a northerner, southerner, or anywhere in between, it is likely you have heard of Newcastle Brown Ale.

Released back in the late 1920’s this brew quickly became the favourite not only in the North-East, but throughout the UK, and even overseas.

However, the iconic blue star that is central to the logo is actually there to represent something more than the popularity of the ale.

Each of the 5 points on the blue star are there to represent the 5 founding breweries that were brought together in 1890 to create Newcastle Breweries Ltd, consisting of 2 from North Shields, 2 from Gateshead, and 1 from Sunderland.

So, next time you’re enjoying a cold one with your friends or colleagues, be sure to hit them with that lesser-known fact.

Did You Know The Geordie Accent Is One of the Most Difficult To Understand?

Now, at Canny we are more than used to the Geordie accent as around 70% of our team were born and bred in and around Newcastle.

Equally, we are a North-East based agency, so the company name Canny Creative was more than a fitting choice!

However, across the UK and around the world, the accent and dialect has been voted time and time again as one of the most difficult to understand.

More recently, this is because of words such as “Howay” and “Whey-aye man”, but the accent is said to originate from settlers from Denmark and Germany.

Over the years, the languages all evolved into an Old English dialect often grouped under the term Northumbrian, but now is well-known as Geordie.

Newcastle quayside
Credit to Lonely Planet

Newcastle Branding: Newcastle logo, Newcastle Bridges and more

So, now that we have talked through some unique facts about the city, it’s time to get into those all important branding examples.

Newcastle can be seen as something different to everyone, for example a city that is full of clubs and entertainment at night for students, is a cultural hub full of history for others during the day.

But let’s start with what Newcastle is known for, it’s adoration of football!

NUFC logo
Credit to Planet Radio

Newcastle United Football Club (N.U.F.C)

Newcastle’s football team, or as they are more commonly known, “The Magpies” (or Mags if you’re a true fan), are at the heart of the city.

Founded in 1892, the club play in the Premier League and are best known for their black and white striped team strip.

Newcastle is one of the many cities that is known for its dedicated football fans, who fill the home stadium St James Park for every single match.

Speaking of St James’, the stadium is the 9th biggest in the UK, and has been home to some of the best footballers the world has seen, the prime example being fellow Geordie, Alan Shearer.

The teams logo is aligned perfectly with the cities crest, in fact it’s nearly identical, except the classic black and white striped colouring in the centre of the shield, and the clubs name in place of the motto.

However, this wasn’t always the teams logo, there have been 3 earlier versions none of which lasted longer than 8 years!

The club introduced the city crest as its logo in 1969, then moved onto a more rounded seal style that contained a castle and a magpie, before moving on to the logo that involved bold NUFC lettering, with a small magpie underneath.

Then the team badge was settled in 1988 and it has remained until today, containing none other than the city crest.

What you will learn from this post is that if Newcastle is nothing else, its surprisingly traditional in its branding…

the Theatre Royal
Credit to Theatre Royal

Theatre Royal

Onto the complete opposite side of entertainment now, as we are visiting the Theatre Royal that is located just a stone’s throw from Grey’s Monument in the city centre.

The theatre is known best for its high end performances of plays, musicals, ballets, pantomimes, and operas, including anything from Bugsy Malone, to We Will Rock You.

The building can accommodate 1,300 people in seating ranging from the stalls, to the amphitheatre and gallery, and part of the hype is the offering of artisan ice cream during the intervals.

However, before entering the Theatre Royal, the building itself is a huge part of the branding as it is Grade 1 listed, making it one of 8 listed theatre buildings in the UK.

Certainly a landmark and tourist attraction at the top of the list for this city!

With ornate pillar designs, and a grand entrance the building is neoclassical in its design and creates the perfect setting to watch reworked performances of the past.

The Theatre Royal is certainly unique in its branding, and stepping inside takes you back in time, as the building has held onto its historical value, with its crimson and cream decor.

The word that comes to mind for us is traditional when we think of or even visit this establishment, from the architectural design, through to the stage and the performances within.

Credit to The Daily Star


It would have been wrong not to include this homegrown business, as in the office we just can’t get enough!

Whether it is pasties, doughnuts, or the famous sausage rolls, the North-East community can’t get enough of the baked goods Greggs has to offer.

It may be because within the city centre there is a store around every corner, however there is something about the branding that sticks with us.

Content wise Greggs have got it spot on, providing blog posts and updates on the regular, and interacting with followers via social media.

The company often takes to Twitter to offer sarcastic replies to customer feedback or jokes, for example replying to Piers Morgan’s vegan sausage roll outrage with “Oh hello Piers, we’ve been expecting for you”.

This is the type of thing we all love to see from brands, as it shows off their personality and likability, all while keeping people engaged.

A few months back, the brand partnered with Primark introducing a clothing range with their own version of Crocs, in their iconic blue and yellow colouring.

We love them for their steak bakes, but we aren’t sure whether we would go as far as sporting a bright blue Greggs branded basketball jersey…

7 bridges newcastle
Credit to The Chronicle

The 7 Bridges

Don’t panic, because we aren’t about to give your architectural or structural opinions on every single bridge along the Tyne, however we would like to talk about their brand as a package deal.

The 7 bridges are spaced along the River Tyne in the order that follows:

  • Millennium Bridge
  • Tyne Bridge
  • Swing Bridge
  • High Level Bridge
  • Queen Elizabeth II Metro Bridge
  • King Edward VII Bridge
  • Redheugh Bridge

Each bridge provides something unique to the table with its design and structure, for example the Millennium Bridge was the first tilting bridge ever built, and the Swing Bridge still runs on its original machinery and hydraulic power.

What is unique about the Quayside in Newcastle is the variety of views that are available as you walk along the riverside, as each bridge provides a new viewing point and a new landmark to see.

It’s said that there is a certain angle in which you are able to see all 7 bridges at once, however, we haven’t quite located the perfect spot yet!

Wylam brewery
Credit to Wylam Brewery

Wylam Brewery

The Palace of the Arts, or as we know it, Wylam Brewery is home to a range of brewing, beers, and events.

Located in Exhibition Park, just north of Newcastle University and The Hancock Museum, this brewery provides the perfect setting to crack open a bottle and enjoy the views.

The building design is art deco inspired with its domed roof and distinctive pillars, and similar to the Theatre Royal , architecture is part of the brewery’s branding.

Despite most people visiting the brewery for the beer, this attraction frequently plays host to gigs, as well as their recent genre of event that includes battle of the best between popular north east food vendors.

First they had Battle of the Burger, then they had Slice Wars, and then they had Battle Royale, all of which invited local restaurants and vendors, (and Newcastle foodies) to come along and get a taste for all they had to offer.

Not only was this event popular, but it highlighted exactly what kind of brand the brewery is going for, by building up smaller businesses, and encouraging support in the local community.

But if you don’t quite have the time to visit the brewery itself that’s no problem either, as their beers are sold and enjoyed in pubs and shops across the country.

As an added bonus if you love beer and you’re looking to tie the knot, Wylam Brewery can host you and your guests on the big day!

jesmond dene
Credit to Country File

Jesmond Dene

Moving slightly further north now, and onto Jesmond Dene, a historic park in the heart of Newcastle.

Now, Newcastle is a surprisingly a city surrounded by a lot of greenery with Exhibition Park, Leazes park, Heaton park and the Town Moor to name only a few.

So, Jesmond Dene is one of many inner city havens to retreat to for tourists, locals, and wildlife alike.

The park is centred around preservation of nature with the charity “The Friends of Jesmond Dene” running events, taking care of pets corner, and running the cafe.

However, the dene is no exception to the other attractions in the city when it comes to celebrating the culture and history of Newcastle, as the park was originally owned by Lord Armstrong, hence where the “Armstrong Bridge” gets its rightful name.

He worked the land, installed footpaths, built bridges and created waterfalls within the river, creating what is today a huge natural attraction for visitors to explore.

Grainger market
Credit to Sunderland Bid

Grainger Market

An attraction that is unique in Newcastle is the Grainger Market, as it offers fresh produce, small businesses, and cosy eateries all in one spot.

Much like some of the other spots mentioned in this post, this market has a traditional feel, with stalls open from 9 to 5:30 Monday to Saturday, and an interior that reminds us of an old train station.

Part of the appeal of browsing the Grainger Market is the diversity of all the shops and stalls and again, supporting small and local businesses.

There is everything you could possibly need in this market, ranging from florists, to vintage fashion, to bakeries, and butcher shops.

Therefore, the market’s branding is that it is an all-in-one establishment providing something for everyone, with an emphasis on everyone being welcome.

Credit to Meli’s Living

The Quayside

So, whilst we understand the 7 bridges might not be up your street if you’re visiting the toon, and you prefer the pasties and nightlife, the Quayside can give you the opportunity to do all 3!

While tourists may flock down to the riverside to view the iconic bridges, this area of Newcastle has so much more to offer.

The Quayside is vastly populated with restaurants and bars, most of which allow you to dine with a view of the river, or at least one of the bridges!

However, the lively stretch along the River Tyne is equally used by many as a place to go for a stroll, a cycle, or even a browse of the Sunday markets.

The area is versatile as the blend of the bridges, bars, and the Baltic (we will get to that next) create a diversity along the river attracting tourists and locals alike.

The Baltic
Credit to Baltic

The Baltic

Converted from a flour mill, to a centre for contemporary art, the Baltic on the other side of the water offers a selection of work from artists far and wide.

The interior of this art gallery is minimalist in order to let the exhibitions shine, and the location of the Baltic puts it a spot above the rest that are available to visit in Newcastle.

This gallery can be found on the Gateshead side of the Quayside, just a quick walk over the Millenium Bridge, and making your way to the top gives you an opportunity to view the city from above.

The structure consists of 6 floors and 3 mezzanines, and is host to a cinema room, shop, cafe, rooftop restaurant, and nearly 3000 square metres of gallery and performance space.

The contrast in the modern interior, with the more traditional historical building exterior, links back to the city’s emphasis on keeping the history alive through architecture (which we have already noticed with Wylam brewery and the Theatre Royal).

An added bonus to this gallery is that all visitors are welcome free of charge, as the Baltic’s mission is to create a greater understanding of the world through outstanding and experimental artistic work.

Centre for life
Credit to TripAdvisor

Centre For Life

The Centre for Life is known to some as a science village, where scientists and academics promote the importance of the life sciences.

Opened in 1998, Life has welcomed over a quarter of a million people to the centre each year, welcoming families, schools, and everyone in between to strengthen their knowledge in science and research.

Interactive activities and live shows are offered through a variety of zones, including:

  • Brain Zone
  • Space Zone
  • Creativity Zone
  • Play Zone
  • Gaia- The Earth

The centre is colourful by nature and this includes its logo too, with rainbow lettering and a wavy shaped F, that represents the flow of learning in and out of the centre.

Located just on the outskirts of the city centre, next to Newcastle’s Central Station, this museum and tourist attraction hybrid is unique to the North-East, and even our mention won’t don’t it justice!

It provides interactivity like no other museum in the area, and hosts exhibitions on anything from Dinosaurs, to the making of Wallace and Gromit (a fond childhood memory of mine).

State of Branding: Newcastle (From The Newcastle Logo, to Newcastle Bridges)

So there we have it, our quick round-up of Newcastle branding.

We hope that even if you’re a northern reader who has visited most of these attractions and landmarks, you now know everything when it comes to the this North-Eastern city as a brand.

Just as we have enjoyed visiting and exploring US brand examples, sometimes home is where the heart is and in this case, where the branding is.

As a creative agency we thrive off discussing, and giving our take on what brands are currently doing that’s unique and exciting, so be sure to get involved in the conversation and send us a message via social media.

Whether you’re keen to pay a visit to Wylam brewery to take part in their next food vendor battle, or fancy a stroll along the Quayside to witness various businesses and attractions from this post, we want to know!

I hope you enjoyed our short tour of the toon, but if you’re itching for us to get back to US content fear not, next stop – Massachusetts!